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A Trip Down Memory Lane: Past Host Countries for the World Cup


The method by which FIFA selects host nations has changed significantly over time. Choosing a host nation was contentious at first due to the inconvenient nature of international travel.

After the FIFA World Cup in Uruguay, just a few European teams qualified for the next two tournaments, both of which were hosted in Europe. FIFA started switching tournaments between the Americas and Europe to avoid giving either continent the appearance of favoritism.

This stance was maintained until the year 2002 when the first-ever World Cup finals were held in Asia, a joint effort between Japan and South Korea. However, since those early days, FIFA’s selection process has undergone significant changes, resulting in a far more fair and reliable system.

There have been many different countries that have hosted the FIFA World Cup and we’ll look back on all of them in today’s article.

2018: Russia

Russia received the honor of hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup from the European Confederation. The event spread throughout 11 cities and 12 different locations.

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The two newest additions to the FIFA World Cup are Iceland and Panama. Star-studded France beat Croatia 4-2 in the championship game, giving them their 2nd World Cup victory. There were 78,011 fans in attendance during the final game, which was played at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

With six goals for the Three Lions, England’s Harry Kane won the Golden Boot and added to the tournament’s annals. Even if you’ve seen the World Cup betting odds 2022, it’s still quite difficult to make a prediction about who’ll be the next.

2014: Brazil

Brazil has played host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The most significant football event has been held in South America for the very first time since 1986.

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There were a total of 12 host locations spread across 12 cities for the tournament. Out of the 32 teams, only Herzegovina and Bosnia were making their first appearance. The German national soccer team memorably won 7-1 against Brazil in one semifinal.

A total of 74,732 people saw Mario Goetze of Germany win the Cup in overtime. This doesn’t even include the millions of fans who witnessed the game via the World Cup livestream. The victory made Germany the first European team to ever win the World Cup title in the Americas.

While Germany won the 2014 World Cup, Columbia’s James Rodriguez scored 6 goals to win the Golden Boot.

2010: South Africa

When it comes to the 2010 World Cup, South Africa has the honor of playing host. When this tournament took place, it made history by being the first ever staged in Africa. The competition spread across nine cities and ten venues.

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Slovakia and Serbia, two newly constituted nations, made their debuts at the FIFA show. North Korea has made it to the World Cup again after the last appearance in 2002. It was expected that Spain would prevail in the tournament, and they did so with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in overtime of the final.

Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, hosted the FIFA World Cup final, which was seen by 82,490 people. Millions of fans from around the globe who chose to catch the game via broadcast have also tuned in. The World Cup 2022 free livestream would hopefully bring in more spectators this 2022 season.

While Spain won the 2010 World Cup, four players tied for the most goals scored: Wesley Sneijder, David Villa, Diego Forlan, and Thomas Muller.

2006: Germany

Germany hosted the 18th event, which took place in 12 cities. Germany was the clear favorite, but they lost to Italy in the semi-finals in the last seconds of extra time. Olympiastadion in Berlin has hosted the final between Italy and France.

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The 2006 World Cup final concluded 1-1, and the Italian national squad emerged victorious on penalties to claim the trophy in front of a record-setting crowd of 69,000 plus the 715 million watching via stream. The upcoming World Cup 2022 livestream hopes to beat that figure.

In the seventh minute, Zinedine Zidane scored for France from the penalty spot, and in the nineteenth minute, Italy tied the score thanks to a goal from Marco Materazzi. Germany’s Miroslav Klose won the Golden Boot at the 2006 World Cup with five goals.

2002: Japan/South Korea

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. It was also the first time that numerous countries worked together to host the tournament. First-time qualifiers included Senegal, Ecuador, Slovenia, and China; the Netherlands were conspicuous by their absence.

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Twenty cities across two nations played host to various stages of the competition. South Korea, the first country from outside of Europe and the Americas to reach the semifinals, did so on the strength of some disputed results. Germany and Brazil battled it out in Yokohama in 2002 at the World Cup final.

Brazil, backed by Ronaldo, easily defeated Italy 209 in front of an estimated 69,000 supporters at the last game of the 2002 World Cup. Aside from his two goals in the championship game, Ronaldo finished the season with eight goals and was awarded the Golden Boot. It’s still up for debate whether this WorldCup22 will be Ronaldo’s last appearance at the tournament.

1998: France

The France FIFA World Cup in 1998, became the first tournament to feature 32 nations. Consequently, the World Cup welcomed four new teams: Croatia, Jamaica, Japan, and South Africa. The Golden Goal regulation made its debut in this edition as well.

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The competition took place at ten different locations. Zinedine Zidane led France to overcome Brazil 3-0 in the final to win their first-ever World Cup title. 80,000 people packed into the Stade de France in Paris to see the championship game.

Zidane scored twice in the first half, while Emmanuel Petit added one in extra time. A 2-0 score for Croatia over the Netherlands. Davor Suker of Croatia scored six goals to capture the Golden Boot.

1994: United States

After the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2001, the United States hosted the Men’s World Cup in 1995. In terms of attendance, it was deemed the most successful World Cup in history. It would have been nice to see this replicated on the next feed of the live football world cup 2022 for free.

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The tournament attracted three debutants – Greece, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, Russia participated for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, while Germany fielded a unified national squad for the first time since 1938.

The convention was held in a total of nine different cities. It’s no surprise that this year’s FIFA World Cup broke multiple attendance records, thanks to the massive venues that hosted the action. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, was the site of the championship game, and 94,194 people showed up to watch. After 120 minutes of play finished scoreless, Brazil ultimately prevailed over Italy on penalty kicks.

The Golden Boot was shared by Hristo Stoichkov of Bulgaria and Oleg Salenko of Russia, who both scored six times.

1990: Italy

In 1990, Italy played host to the FIFA World Cup. Because the event was quickly followed by the collapse of the Eastern European Block, numerous countries, including West Germany, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, made their final appearances. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ireland, and Costa Rica all participated for the first time.

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As far as the quality of the football played in the World Cup is concerned, this tournament ranks last, and it remains to hold the record for the fewest goals scored. Fans, of course, wanted the WorldCup22 to end up doing the same.

This eventually resulted in the implementation of the back-pass rule and the awarding of three points for a victory. And it was the first World Cup ever broadcast on high-definition television. The event took place in 12 cities at 12 separate locations.

West Germany won their third championship with a 1-0 victory over Argentina in the final. The final of the 1990 World Cup was played at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in front of 73,603. Salvatore Schillaci of Italy scored six goals and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

1986: Mexico

The FIFA World Cup was held in Mexico for the second time. The number of countries taking part remained at 24, but the format was changed to include a round of 16 for the very first time. It was in this season that we saw the debuts of Denmark, Canada, and Iraq.

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Diego Maradona’s brilliant play, including the “Hand of God” goal and the iconic solo strike against England in the quarterfinals, cemented his place in tournament lore. Over a dozen venues in eleven different cities hosted matches throughout the tournament.

In front of a record crowd of 114,600 at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the championship match. Gary Lineker of England scored six goals at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, earning him the tournament’s Golden Boot award.

1982: Spain

In 1982, Spain played home to the FIFA World Cup, which featured 24 different countries. Debuting were the nations of Cameroon, Honduras, Kuwait, Algeria, and New Zealand. After the group stage of this tournament, the round-robin format was never used again at any World Cup.

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Over 17 stadiums in 14 cities hosted the event. Every single one of the semifinalists was from Europe, and Italy beat West Germany 3-1 in the final to claim their third World Cup. The final was staged in front of 90,000 people at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

Paolo Rossi scored six goals at the 1982 FIFA World Cup and was named the tournament’s Golden Boot winner.

1978: Argentina

Argentina won the bid to host the 1978 FIFA World Cup, marking a return to South America for the tournament. It was the final World Cup with only 16 teams before FIFA increased the field to 24 for the subsequent tournament.

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The 1976 military coup and ensuing dictatorship in Argentina cast a pall over this tournament. Because of this, the 2010 World Cup is sometimes referred to as the “Dirtiest World Cup ever.”

Over six stadiums across five cities hosted matches for this event, with the finals being contested at Buenos Aires’ Estadio Monumental. After extra time, Argentina prevailed 3–1 over the Ernst Happel Netherlands. This season, Kempes scored the most goals (six) of any player.

1974: West Germany

In 1974, the World Cup was held in West Germany after a bid by that country was successful. Round one remained the same, but the quarterfinals and semis were split into two groups of 4 squads each and decided using a round-robin system.

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These two groups’ victors met in a championship game. The countries of Haiti, East Germany, Zaire, and Australia all made their World Cup debuts in 1990. Notable events in this edition include the rise of Johan Cruyff and the Total Football displayed by the Dutch team.

More than nine locations hosted various stages of the competition. At Olympiastadion in Munich, 75,200 people saw the final match, which the host country won, 2-1, over the Dutch national team. Polish forward Grzegorz Lato scored seven goals and won the Golden Boot.

1970: Mexico

The 1970 World Cup was the ninth tournament of its kind. It was held in Mexico. For the first time, the FIFA World Cup was played in a region of the world other than Europe or the Americas. Introduced were countries like Israel, Morocco, and El Salvador.

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There were five different stadiums utilized for the tournament, with the final being held at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. The Brazilians defeated Italy 4-1 in front of 107,412 fans to win their 3rd FIFA World Cup. It was West German forward Gerd Muller who scored ten goals and won the Golden Boot.

1966: England

When England hosted the 1966 FIFA World Cup, it was the first time a country whose official language was English had done so. While North Korea and Portugal participated for the first time, 31 African countries boycotted since they were not assured of a spot.

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If you’ve seen the World Cup 2022 fixtures Singapore time, you’d know that this 1966 season also has eight venues with Wembley Stadium being the largest. If you haven’t seen the World Cup 2022 match schedule yet, you might want to check our dedicated section for that.

The final was played at Wembley Stadium in front of 96,924 fans and included the home team taking on West Germany. Portuguese forward Eusebio was the tournament’s top performer, scoring nine times to earn the Golden Boot.

1962: Chile

In 1962, Chile played host to the World Cup for the sixth time. All the countries that took part were either European or American. There was a poisonous vibe at this competition, and it affected the play. The inaugural match, between the home team and Italy, became known as the Battle of Santiago.

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The final was played between Czechoslovakia and Brazil in front of 68,679 fans at Estadio Nacional. Brazil won the game 3-1. Several players tied for the lead in goals scored with four: Garrincha, Drazan Jerkovic, Vava, Florian Albert, Valentin Ivanov, and Leonel Sanchez.

1958: Sweden

Sweden was chosen to host the 1956 tournament, keeping the tournament in Europe. Countries like Italy, Uruguay, Spain, and Belgium didn’t participate. First-time participants Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Soviet Union all made their World Cup debuts in 1990.

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Twelve European countries and 4 from South and Central America competed in the Cup. The competition took place at twelve different locations. Pele’s stardom rose dramatically after this. The final was played at Rasunda Stadium in front of 49,737 fans, and Brazil defeated the host team by a score of 5-2.

1954: Switzerland

Due to Switzerland’s selection as the host nation for the FIFA World Cup, attention has once again returned to Europe. Scotland, Turkey, and South Korea, the very first independent Asian nation, all made their FIFA World Cup debuts in 1954.

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The event took place in six different stadiums in six different cities. The competition resumed its traditional round-robin and elimination-style play. However, even in group games, overtime was used. The World Cup was deemed as the Golden Generation of Hungary, where the national team reached the final before losing 3-2 to West Germany, and was remembered fondly.

1950: Brazil

In order to revive the World Cup after a 12-year hiatus, the organizing committee decided to make Brazil the host country for this year’s tournament. Many teams from Asia, Eastern Europe, and South and Central America dropped out of the competition.

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By the end of the 1950 tournament, just 13 teams remained. Both England’s first showing and the first broadcast World Cup occurred in this tournament.

The competition is spread over six different locations, and its format has been changed from previous years; the teams will now compete in four separate groups for the first round. The winners of each group were combined into a new group to compete for the overall championship.

This resulted in the only two-game final in FIFA World Cup history, despite Uruguay’s eventual victory. Ademir scored eight goals at the 1950 World Cup, making him the tournament’s highest scorer.

1938: France

It was in France that the 1938 FIFA World Cup was held. The Cup was played 12 years after the last one, with WWII looming in the background. For the first time ever, the World Cup host nation did not need to win a qualifying round.

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There were just 15 teams in the competition this year, and Indonesia and Cuba made their only appearances in it.

It was held in ten different locations across nine different cities. Italy and Hungary squared off in the final at Paris’s Stade Olympique de Colombes. Nearly 50,000 spectators saw Italy win 4-2 in the final score.

1934: Italy

In 1934, Italy played host to the World Cup. This is significant since it marks the debut of the FIFA World Cup in Europe. This marks the first World Cup to feature a separate qualifying round. There were 32 teams that registered for the qualifying round, but only 16 made it to the championship round.

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Ultimately, 12 European countries, 2 from South and Central America, and 1 from North America and Africa made the cut. To represent Africa, Egypt was the first country. Approximately 55,000 people saw the final game, which was one of 8 locations. There was a 2-1 victory for Italy over Czechoslovakia.

1930: Uruguay

At long last, we come to the first edition of FIFA’s showpiece tournament, the World Cup, which took place in 1930. The 1928 Olympic champions, Uruguay, were chosen to host the World Cup. Only 13 teams responded to FIFA’s open offer to compete.

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For the duration of the event, three distinct stadiums — including the principal venue, Estadio Centenario — were located in Montevideo. The stadium in question was constructed especially for the competition, and it can hold up to 90,000.

When the final whistle blew, the home team had won the inaugural World Cup with a victory over Argentina. Stabile scored the most goals (eight) among all players. Francisco “Pancho” Varallo, the oldest and only surviving player from the 1930 FIFA World Cup final, passed away in 2011.